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NCAA committee approves expanded meal allowance

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The NCAA's Legislative Council approved a proposal Tuesday to expand the meal allowance for all athletes.

The move occurred eight days after Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier complained during the Final Four that he sometimes went to bed ''starving'' because he couldn't afford food.

The proposal would allow Division I schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks to all athletes, including walk-ons. The measure still must be approved by the board of directors, which meets April 24.

''I think the end result is right where it needs to be,'' committee chairwoman and America East assistant commissioner Mary Mulvenna said in a statement released by the governing body.

The proposal has been debated for months, but Napier's comments following last week's national championship game brought attention to the topic. Napier was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament, leading Connecticut to its fourth men's title.

Schools have been allowed to provide three meals per day or a stipend for those meals to scholarship athletes. The new rule would allow walk-ons to receive the same allowances and would allow schools to provide more meals and snacks, too.

The committee also approved a measure that would reduce the penalty for a first positive drug test - if the banned substance is determined to be something other than a performance-enhancing drug. Currently, players who fail the test during NCAA tournaments must sit out one full season. The proposal would cut the penalty to half a season.

Committee members said they hope the change will encourage schools to provide more rehab services.

The NCAA only tests during its championship events, though schools can implement its own drug tests throughout the school year.

In other moves, the committee approved:

-A measure requiring football players to get a three-hour break between preseason practices. Film sessions and team meetings still could be held during the break;

-require a school staff member who is certified in CPR, first aid and arterial external defibrillation to be present at all physical, countable athletic activities;

-and require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified by a nationally accredited certification organization.

If approved, the proposals, except the one regarding strength and conditioning coaches, would take effect Aug. 1. The committee has recommended giving strength and conditioning coaches until Aug. 1, 2015, to complete their certification.

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